Hofstra honors slain student Andrea Rebello during commencement ceremony

Posted at 6:33 PM, May 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-19 19:04:25-04

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK (PIX11)–  “Before we begin our formal commencement program, as President of this great university, I want to express our community’s collective grief, our community’s sorrow over the senseless and tragic death of a very young member of the Hofstra family: Andrea Rebello,” said Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz.

For a moment the pomp and circumstance at Hofstra University was silenced by the pop’s of gun shots heard just off campus late last week.

One year from now 21-year-old Andrea Rebello would have been part of the same commencement ceremony.

The public relations major, a junior at the school, was shot and killed during a robbery at her off campus apartment.

Police say a Nassau County officer hit Rebello as 30-year-old Dalton Smith used her body as a human shield.

Both Rebello and Smith were killed in the shooting.

Today faculty and graduating classmates wore white ribbons in memory of Andrea.

Senator Chuck Schumer talked about the mixed emotions of the day.

“We feel shocked and horrible about Andrea’s loss, but it’s also a very proud day of accomplishment for you and all of your families.”

“And in the wake of Andrea’s passing, today the President here at Hofstra University reminded graduating students to take advantage of the opportunities they have and be proud of the life they live using one of Andrea’s favorite quotes.”

“It’s from Bob Marley.  Live the life you love, said Andrea, and love the life you live.  Please join me in a moment of silence.”

Nassau County Police have not identified the officer who fired the shot that killed Rebello, but say that he is a 12-year-veteran of the force who previously served with the NYPD.

Smith, the suspected robber, had a lengthy criminal record and was just released from prison in February.

As students donned their caps and gowns, some found it difficult to celebrate their accomplishments knowing one of their classmates would never get the same opportunity.

“It’s really depressing and kind of heartbreaking.”